This same symbol – of stones being “alive”, or being treated as though they are – is found right throughout the word of God. Following his departure from his family home, Jacob stopped for the night at Luz. There he witnessed the astonishing vision of angels of God descending to the earth and ascending to heaven again. He also received promises, many of which had been made to his father and grandfather. The next day he renamed the location, Bethel: the house of God (Genesis 28:19). However, the first thing he did when he awoke, apart from declaring his awe at what he had seen, related to the stone he had used for his pillow:
“And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.” (28:18)
Some may consider Jacob an extremely weak man. They present him as one who was swayed by his mother (and then his wives and father-in-law), and who deceived his father and cheated his brother. Well, whatever we may think of Jacob (not forgetting he is listed amongst the faithful in Hebrews 11), incidents like this and the one when he rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well so that Rachel’s flocks could be watered (29:10), hardly describe the actions of a weakling.
Why would a stone be elevated and then anointed? Surely because Jacob knew that one day the promised seed would come. He would be the Messiah, the anointed one. He would be a man of real strength. The true seed, whose day Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all rejoiced to see, would indeed be the “living stone”.
Such was the importance of this symbol that Jacob did the same thing when he parted from Laban for the last time (31:45), and when he returned to Bethel, following the death of his beloved wife, Rachel (Genesis 35:14). Prior to his death, when he blessed his sons, he made reference to the true seed when speaking to Joseph, describing the one who would come as “the shepherd, the stone of Israel” (49:24).
- Jonathan Cope
Next: Idols of wood and stone
- Genesis 28:10-19a – Surely the Lord is in this place – and I did not know it!
- God Is Faithful
- Genesis 29 – Jacob seeks a familial wife, Canaan follows suit; Jacob, Rachel, Leah
- Jacob’s Struggle Continued
- House of God
- Haggai 1:3-4 Which House Is Being Built?
- Nehemiah 10:39 Do Not Neglect God’s House
- Jesus, Our Cornerstone
- Jesus as the new Bethel. Study 5, part 2 in the “Where Heaven and Earth Meet” series.
- Make Every Place the House of God